Raipur: Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh has completed an uninterrupted 13-year rule in the Naxal-hit state riding on welfare schemes and infrastructural development amid challenges like civil supply scam, botched sterilisation surgery and alleged fake Maoist encounters.
Having an image of a "gentleman politician", Singh earned nationwide popularity for his several schemes, particularly public distribution system (PDS), but at the same time faced allegations by opposition Congress of becoming "puppet" in the hands of bureaucrats.
The opposition has also questioned the ruling BJP, quoting some official figures, that if around 40 per cent of people in the state are still below poverty line, which is the highest in the county, then for whom the development has been done in the over-decade-long BJP government.
The 64-year-old Ayurvedic doctor-turned-politician assumed office of chief minister on December 7, 2003.
In the earlier Atal Bihari Vajpayee government at Centre, he was Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry from 1999 to 2003 and named as president of BJP in the new state of Chhattisgarh ahead of Assembly polls in 2003.
He led the party to victory, defeating then Congress government of Chief Minister Ajit Jogi.
On many occasions, even some senior leaders of his own party expressed their displeasure over his working style.
But, despite all the challenges, he emerged as a silent performer and has become the longest serving BJP chief minister of a state in the country.
"It was the blessings and trust of people that led the party to win three consecutive elections in the state. We do politics of development," says Singh.
"When we came to power in 2003, the state was facing several problems, including Naxalism, but now the situation has changed. In 2003, the budget of the state was Rs 7,000 crore which has now expanded to a whopping Rs 78,000 crore. Power generation capacity as well as telecommunication facilities have increased in the state," he pointed out.
"Chhattisgarh was once termed as a backward state but now it is attracting maximum industrial investment across the country," the Chief Minister said.
His schemes like Mukhyamantri Khadyann Sahayta Yojana scheme, under which rice, salt and gram are given at cheaper rates to 58,80,000 families, interest free agriculture loans, promotion of digital technology and online services, have made him?popular among the masses.